Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless

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Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless
S&W Lemon Squeezer.JPG
Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless Revolver
Place of originUnited States
Production history
ManufacturerSmith & Wesson
Caliber.38 S&W Blackpowder
.32 S&W
ActionDouble Action
Feed system5-round cylinder

The Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless or Smith & Wesson New Departure (nicknamed by collectors as the Lemon Squeezer) is a double-action revolver that was produced from 1887 to 1940 by Smith & Wesson. Based on the Smith & Wesson Model 2 double-action design, the revolver incorporated an internal hammer and an external grip safety on its back-strap. It was chambered in .32 S&W and .38 S&W calibers; these revolvers were discontinued prior to World War II, being eclipsed by the stronger hand ejector models.

.32 and .38 Safety Hammerless models[edit]

Smith & Wesson New Departure .32 S&W fired one-handed from 15 yards.
Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless advertisement from 1899, as published in Harper's Magazine

The Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless models were produced from 1887 (1888 for the 32) to just before World War II. They were chambered in either .32 S&W or .38 S&W with a five-shot cylinder. They were most often produced with a 2-inch, 3-inch, or 3.5-inch barrels; but some 6" barrelled versions are known to exist.[1]

These top-break revolvers were designed for fast reloading and concealed carry as the hammer was internal and would not snag on drawing the revolver from a pocket. They were known as "The New Departure" to reflect the company's new approach to designing revolvers.[1]

Minor design changes were made to these revolvers over the years, resulting in several different design models, as termed by collectors. The first model was manufactured between 1887-1902. The .38 was based on S&W's medium frame, while the .32 was based on the smaller sized "1½" frame.[2][3]

Return of the hammerless[edit]

Smith & Wesson Model 642 Ladysmith in .38 Special

In 1952 the safety hammerless concept was applied to Smith & Wesson's J-frame. The finished product became the Model 40 and 42 chambered in .38 Special and is alternately known as the Smith & Wesson Centennial as it was produced in the 100th anniversary of the founding of Smith & Wesson.[1][4] While few competitors replicated the grip safety, the internal hammer or "hammerless" design proved popular with other manufacturers such as Iver Johnson and Harrington & Richardson. The Centennial (without grip safeties) are still made by S&W, and have been copied by other revolver manufacturers.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Supica, Jim; Richard Nahas (2007). Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (3 ed.). Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media, Inc. pp. 78–79, 151. ISBN 978-0-89689-293-4.
  2. ^ Shideler, Dan (2011). The Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices 2011 Official Gun Digest Book of Guns and Prices (6 ed.). Gun Digest Books. p. 874. ISBN 978-1-4402-1435-6.
  3. ^ Flayderman, Norm (2007). Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values (9 ed.). F+W Media, Inc. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-89689-455-6.
  4. ^ Boorman, Dean K. (2002). The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms. Globe Pequot. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-58574-721-4.